GSMA real-time intelligence data estimates there are now over 5.15 Billion people worldwide with mobile devices. With over 66% of the world’s population having a mobile device (cell phone, tablet or cellular enabled IoT devices) security is becoming a top priority for both businesses and individuals. Furthermore, as the number of devices continues to increase at record rates, so too do the threats from cybercriminals. One of the biggest threats to devices today is Malware. The McAfee Mobile Threat Report estimates the average person has 60-90 apps installed on their phone. These apps can do anything; online banking, controlling home heating, gaming, and help us work more efficiently. But our love of apps comes at a price. Symantec research found an average of 10,573 malicious apps are blocked each day. Additionally, the research found 1 in 36 mobile devices have high risk apps installed – in other words,  Malware.

What is mobile malware?

Mobile malware targets the operating systems on your phone for the purposes of doing “malicious things”. It includes spyware, adware, drive-by downloads, viruses, trojans, phishing, and browser exploitation. Even if your app isn’t malware, it may be susceptible. Research suggests that 76% of apps have insecure data storage, making them a popular target for cybercriminals.

5 ways your mobile device gets malware

SecurityMetrics highlights the top ways your mobile device gets malware.

  1. Downloading malicious apps – Malicious apps contain spyware or other types of malware designed to cause havoc with your system and steal data. Downloading apps from unfamiliar sources or in some cases even legitimate app stores can give you more than your bargained for.
  2. Ignoring regular operating system updates – We all do it, but the fact of the matter is ignoring regular operating systems updates exposes us to vulnerabilities and puts our devices at risk.
  3. Opening suspicious emails – Opening suspicious emails, and clicking links, or downloading files can guarantee a bad outcome.
  4. Using non-secure Wi-Fi/URLs – Public Wi-Fi and insecure websites increase your exposure to malware. You run the risk of exposing sensitive data transmitted from your device, as well as, being more susceptible to “man-in-the-middle attacks”.
  5. Receiving text message/vmail phishing – Just like in an email no legitimate source is going to ask for personal information about you or your device in a text message or vmail.

5 ways to protect your mobile device from malware

  1. Update, Update, Update – Ensure you keep your operating system and apps up to date with the latest versions of software. This guarantees your device has the latest security patches and critical software updates.
  2. Consider a VPN – A virtual private network (VPN) provides a secure way for you to access and share information over public Wi-Fi networks.
  3. Utilize mobile security software – Mobile security software prevents your phone from being infected with viruses and malware. It is similar to how antivirus software protects your computer.
  4. Download from trusted sources – Download from official app stores and only from reputable app creators (think companies).  Be skeptical of free apps that give you free things.
  5. Train employees – Regularly train your employees on cybersecurity, including mobile device security. Additionally, make sure you have security policies in place that include the use of mobile devices.

Backing up your data to the cloud won’t prevent mobile malware threats, however it ensures your data is protected. Regularly backup all of your important data – Implement an easy to use endpoint backup and protection solution like Data Deposit Box. Try it for free here.

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Malware threats are on the rise! So how are these viruses, worms, and trojans continuing to infiltrate businesses around the world? We break it down in this informative infographic!

Top 7 Weaknesses Malware Exploits

(View infographic as a PDF)

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To understand malware and ransomware we need to first define what each is. Let’s start with the basic definitions:

Malware is a broad term describing any malicious code or program, including viruses, worms, and trojans, that provide an attacker with control over your computer, server or network.

Ransomware is a type of malware which takes full control of your system and requires a ransom payment to regain access.

Taking a closer look at Malware

Symantec breaks down the different ways malware infects targeted computers:

  • A worm is a malicious program that replicates itself and spreads from one computer to another without a host file. Worms are frequently found in files, however in this case the entire host file is considered the worm.
  •  A virus is a small program or piece of computer code that alters the way a computer operates without the knowledge or permission of the user. A computer virus executes and replicates itself.
  •  A trojan horse is an imposter, a program or files that appear to be something you need but in reality is malicious. Unlike a virus a trojan does not replicate itself. Rather, you invite it onto your computer, most commonly by opening an email attachment.

Where does ransomware fit in?

As noted above ransomware is a type of malware which takes full control of your system and requires a ransom payment to regain access. In some cases, ransomware threatens to publish confidential data unless a ransom is paid.

Norton breaks down the different types of ransomware:

  • Crypto malware – This type of ransomware encrypts files to extort money. The WannaCry ransomware is likely one of the most recognizable examples of crypto malware. It targeted thousands of computers around the world and spread quickly through corporate networks across the globe.
  • Lockers –  This type of ransomware infects your operating system and completely locks you out of your computer.
  • Scareware – A fake software that represents itself like an antivirus or a cleaning tool. It typically claims to have found issues on your computer and demands money to resolve the issue.
  • Doxware – This type of ransomware is often referred to as leakware and it threatens to publish your stolen information online unless a ransom is paid.
  • RaaS – “Ransomware as a Service” is malware hosted anonymously by a hacker. The distribution, payment collection, and file decryption are all handled by a hacker in exchange for a portion of the ransom.

How do you protect yourself?

Malware and ransomware continue to have significant impact on individuals and organizations around the globe. Here are a few key things you can do to help protect yourself:

  • Backup your data
  • Use security software
  • Regularly update your software and systems
  • Be wary of email attachments
  • Educate your employees

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